Kids of all backgrounds deserve a chance to dream, and international superstar Usher wants to help them.
Since he himself was a kid, he had big dreams. But he knows not every kid’s experience in school is the same. Not all of them will be encouraged to follow their dreams, or get resources to achieve them. That’s why Usher started Usher’s New Look, a non-profit that helps transform the lives of young adults through education, civic engagement and goal setting.
“Understanding education is the most important component for productivity and success in life as an entrepreneur and in any field,” Usher says. “For me, it was important to create a foundation that offers young men and women the opportunity to be entrepreneurs and to help create solutions for the problems that we know we all see.”
When Usher started this foundation in 1999, he wasn’t much older than the kids he aimed to help. But he was already well on his way to achieving his dream. He thought about young people like himself who weren’t afforded the opportunities he was. Volunteering with different youth organizations opened up a whole new perspective for him, and he knew he had to be part of the solution.
“A mantra that I use a lot is, ‘the journey is the destination,’” Usher says. “And I tell people this all the time, ‘don’t just focus on the goal, focus on the journey. Don’t create goals in your mind that represent something tangible. I want a computer. If I ever get a Rolex watch, I’ve succeeded. If I ever get a Porsche or a car or a house, I’ve made it.’ That’s not the purpose. The purpose is the journey and if you stay connected to the journey then you’ll make it. Then, you’ll always land.”
Since its inception, the foundation has helped mentor 42,000 kids. These young adults get access to college campuses, career coaching and training, and peer-to-peer engagement. Some of the top colleges in the country – and the top employers, like Ford, General Electric and Facebook – work with students to find their strengths, and give them insight into what it means to work at these types of companies. All of the kids who have been involved in Usher’s New Look either went to college or were hired through vocational training.
The organization hosts several conferences and programs around the country for junior high, high school and college students. Usher hopes in the future he can expand his programs into an actual campus. His main goal, though, is to create a pipeline for kids in low income areas and empower them to become movers and shakers in the world.
“The whole idea is ‘creating future leaders,’” Usher says. “Leaders that know who they are, what they’re advocating for and what they can do to change their circumstance. Last, but not least, leaders who are being of service to people who are just like them.”